Website of Daniel Boyd – Author and Blogger

Welcome!  

There is only one thing of potential interest here... my blog.  Formerly I was preparing a teaser page for my then upcoming sci-fi novel, but I have suspended all work on that project and currently have no solid plans for what project to pursue next.  For now, please take a look at my blog posts and comment if you wish.

Recent Blog Posts

A Mixed Bag Of Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is back!  The mid-season return was a mixed bag of “oops”, “ow”, “about time”, and “why?”.  Needless to say there are massive, I repeat, massive spoilers here.  I’m going to touch on pretty much every story line.  Every expected, unexpected, and anticipated moment in the episode will be mentioned, so if you haven’t watched it, STOP READING NOW!

To begin, I want to address the first glaring issue with the episode, which is the complete and utter omission of Sam talking right after the group, drenched in Walker goo to blend in with the herd, exits the house they were holed up in.  While the same plot point and survival faux pas is used a few minutes later to not only eliminate Sam, but his mother Jessie as well (once again proving the Walking Dead maxim that the only people who can survive in Walker-land are Rick and his posse), it felt like the writers just forgot about Sam already talking right from the beginning of the long, slow walk.

Moving along, I want to mention the scene with the Saviors, Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham.  If I were Daryl, I don’t think I would have even slowed down when I saw the formation of motorcycles, considering that the Saviors were obviously not in any kind of danger or trouble, but were instead aggressively blocking the road.  That truck would have made mincemeat of the Saviors and their bikes.  I know, one of them might have gotten a shot off and blew everyone up, but all three of them have lived in this world long enough to know that there was no good that would come from stopping.  Of course, now, with the crew of the Saviors splattered all over the road, a confrontation with Negan is inevitable, not that it wasn’t already.

The Alpha Wolf and Denise is a situation that never should have happened.  The Alpha Wolf should have been dead long ago.  Good thing Carol was there to “save the day”.  Yes, for unknown reasons the Alpha Wolf had turned around to help Denise, got bitten and been offered help by Denise (who is really too nice for her own good), but it was time for him to go.  He and his mates were seriously broken.  While I admire Morgan’s fighting chops, his new-found respect for life is going to get him or someone else killed one of these days.  It almost got Denise killed in this episode.

Speaking of getting people killed, I can’t help but put some of the blame for Sam and Jessie’s death on Carol.  The writers made it abundantly clear that Sam freaked out because he remembered Carol’s scary threat from a few episodes back.  While she succeeded in the short term to some degree with that threat, she managed to cause Sam to freeze up right when it meant his life and his mother’s.  Interestingly enough, the only people that will be horrified by this revelation are the viewers.  Carol will never know she contributed to Sam’s death.  That’s probably a good thing for the sake of her sanity, although Carol has become one of the toughest characters on the show, mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’m glad that Michonne was paying attention during the Walker melee.  Ron had found his golden opportunity to take his revenge, and while he was almost successful, he paid the price for ignoring the dead to destroy the living.  It hearkens directly back to one of the key taglines of the show, “Fight the dead, fear the living”.  You would think hordes of Walkers swarming around him, the fool would use the gun to help save himself, not make more Walkers, but he was apparently beyond reason.

It was a hectic reunion for Maggie and Glenn, with her stuck on a dangerously wobbling lookout tower surrounded by Walkers and he running through the mass of Walkers, trying to draw them away.  Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham save the day, of course.  Glenn must be part super-feline, because he has used up more than nine lives in the course of the show, escaping from certain death more times than I can remember, including this time when he was rescued.  The flurry of bullets that sailed around him when Sasha and Abraham burst through the wall and started mowing down Walkers with their rifles was not just surprising, it was absolutely unavoidable.  I chalk it up to TV show physics.

The final rescue brings me to my second issue with the episode.  Daryl pumps gas from the fuel truck into the lake and sets in on fire to attract the remaining Walkers that Rick and everyone else had not yet killed (another issue with the episode, but I’ll get to that in a minute).  The problem is that without any other fuel, the gas would have burned off quickly and left the group  in the same situation, just without any gas to burn.  Another case of TV show physics and chemistry.

Last issue, I promise.  While it was awesome that this group has finally learned that living in this world means killing lots of things that are already dead, they never really trained to do that very thing.  While Rick and the rest were probably still in good shape from living outside Alexandria’s walls, the other characters were definitely not.  The episode implies that they were hacking, stabbing, slashing and impaling Walkers for hours, but there is no way that the Alexandria crew could sustain that kind of physical activity for that time period.  I know, they were fighting for their lives and that does lend some extra incentive to keep calm and stab on, but the whole idea of untrained individuals conducting that level of carnage with no losses pokes my suspension of belief bubble really hard.

Oh, and this is a quick one – There’s absolutely no way, NO WAY, that I would have sent Judith with Gabriel.  That man is damaged, badly, and he can barely cope with a blister, much less walk through a Walker herd with a baby and not get eaten.  Just sayin’.  I’m glad it all worked out, though.

Don’t get me wrong.  I loved this episode, from the destruction of the Savior “ambassadors”, to the heartbreak of losing characters, to the final deus ex machina-like escape.  It was 100%, through and through, exciting Walking Dead.  It had exactly the mixed bag impact that I’ve come to expect from the writers.  I have to qualify my enthusiasm for the show by revealing that I have never read any of the graphic novels, so my impressions will definitely be different than a true Walking Dead graphic novel fan and even from some who have only watched the shows, but I’ll deal with that topic on another day.

This was post 14 of 28 for my February blog posting challenge.  If you are curious you can see the genesis of my challenge in this post.

 

 

 

My KeePass Migration Experience

I recently migrated my password, license and login information that was stored in a piece of software that was no longer under active development, to the open source program KeePass. I wanted to share my experience with the program because my migration was so smooth and effortless, despite the fact that there was no import plugin to convert from my old program.

I’m running version 2.31, which is the latest version as of this post. I did a full install, as this was what I was going to use for pretty much everything – passwords, prescriptions, web login URLs, licenses, and whatever else I could stuff into the various fields of the database. It took me about half an hour to transfer everything, including the time needed to find a couple of license numbers that I had not entered into my previous program.

KeePass is designed to generate strong passwords for the accounts in the database, allowing the user to simply copy and paste them where needed to log into web pages, local password request dialog boxes, and anywhere else that copy and paste works. It is easy to override this behavior and simply type in whatever password is already in use for the account. One time-saving feature I did not take advantage of was the “default username” that the program will insert into the username field in a new record. Most websites default to using an email address as the username, and if I had enabled the default username feature, I would have saved a lot of typing.

Password complexity is configurable by length, character set, pattern, or algorithm. Add to this the fact that the need to remember the correct password for a website is eliminated and KeePass becomes a powerful tool to increase security of accounts. Each website can have a unique, strong password that KeePass keeps up with. Passwords, including the master password needed to open the database, can be configured for a maximum age or a date they expire.

I stored my password database on one of my cloud storage accounts and can access it from anywhere via a portable installation of KeePass or even from my phone. There is no official Android or iOS KeePass programs, but there are third-party ones for each platform. I picked one of these for my phone and tablet and now have access to my passwords, licenses, prescriptions, and whatever else I put into the secure database. The encryption on the database file is heavy, I have little fear that the master password could be cracked before I rotate it.

All in all, KeePass is a great program to handle passwords in particular and any other information that I want to keep secure. It is under active development, is flexible, very configurable, secure and portable. If I want to convert all my derivative and overused passwords to new ultra-secure passwords using KeePass, I feel that I could do that rather quickly with the tools that KeePass provides.

You can find the KeePass website here – http://keepass.info/index.html
There is a ton of information there concerning use and plugins of this great, light-weight password management program.

This is blog 13 of 28 for February.  While I missed one day back on Thursday, I am determined to finish out the month with 28 posts of 500+ words each.  Have a great and blessed day!

A Supreme Loss

The Supreme court lost a critical conservative voice today.  Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead today.  I’ve found few details concerning his passing as of the time I write this, so I will not linger on the incident, but on the implications.  The implications of his death are potentially widespread and long-lasting.  Justice Scalia was a strong conservative, appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

His influence has swayed many conversations and oral arguments in critical cases over the years.  He was a key factor and lead opinion author in the Heller decision of 2008 that protected 2nd amendment rights.  He was a gifted oral arguer and a sharp interrogator.  Never one to blunt his words, he ruffled many feathers during his tenure, especially liberal ones.  Unfortunately, he was not much for trying to gain consensus, so his opinions and influence were somewhat diminished by his brash judicial style.

After his death was made public, the sparring began almost immediately, with Republican and Democrat voices clamoring to set the tone for his replacement.  Republicans have called for the next president to appoint his replacement, which would result in an empty seat on the Court for a year or more if that were to happen.  The Democrats have already attempted to push for a rapid appointment in light of “all of the important cases that the Court needs to rule on”, plus the fact that whoever President Obama decides to appoint would almost guarantee to at least temporarily swing the court to a violently skewed liberal stance.  A fight in the Senate over approval is also pretty much guaranteed.

The Supreme Court was fairly well balanced, as  Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy can be pretty much a toss up on any given issue, including the legality of Obamacare.  If Obama is able to appoint another justice to the court with his political leanings, and everyone is aware what those are, there is potential for devastating decisions on many of the hot button cases that loom on the Court’s docket.

Unfortunately, even if the Senate blocks an Obama appointment, there are a number of cases that are currently in flux, and if the Supreme Court is tied 4-4, lower court rulings will stand, and the Appeals Courts are stacked with liberal judges.  Even if Justice Scalia has placed his vote on a case that has not yet been announced, the Court will not let the ruling stand based on the vote of a dead man and it will result in a tie if it comes down to a 5-4 ruling, which are more and more common these days with the sharp polarization of the Court.

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but a strongly conservative Supreme Court Justice dying during the lame duck period of one of the worst presidents in our history, if not the worst, is an awfully convenient happenstance.  Yes, I know Justice Scalia was 79 years old, and sometimes things just happen, but dying in his sleep?  Now?  Even my dull, untrained conspiracy senses smell a rat.  I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help but feel that this was all very… I don’t have a better word than convenient.  Obama gets to cement his liberal legacy by swinging the Supreme Court wildly left at worst, and even at best, critical cases get left to the whims of the radically liberal Appeals Courts.  What man, who promised to “fundamentally change America” could not be at least a little excited at the prospect of doing just that?

Hang on America, I think we are in for a bumpy ride.

In writing this post, I pulled pertinent information from the following articles, both of which are excellent at explaining what’s at stake, with the bonus that they are from different perspectives:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79

If Republicans Block Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination, He Wins Anyway

 

I Missed A Day

Well, I missed a day yesterday in my February posting challenge.  I do have a really good excuse.  I was going to write about my reaction to the New Hampshire primary results, but I’ll summarize it here in one phrase – there are a lot of states left to go.  Enough said.

What I will write about today, which works well with my chosen topic, is faith.  I’m going to show you the hand of God in a bad situation that could have been so much worse.  I’m going to explain how what most people wrote off as coincidence and happenstance and luck was God, through and through.  I’ll point out where I believe God touched my circumstances by inserting “(God)” at each critical point.

I had taken a vacation day from work yesterday, planning to help move a client’s files, printers and databases to a new server.  Yesterday was the only day this week that I could have scheduled this (God).  That schedule was interrupted almost immediately because someone was coming to replace the faucet in our kitchen and I needed to be home for that (God).  They ended up being late because of a busted water main elsewhere that they had to tend to first (God).  Since my morning arrival time at my client’s office was interrupted, I decided to delay going until after lunch.

During this time, my wife came down and told me that our mobile carrier had sent her a message that our daughter’s phone had dialed 911.  She was way out in the country at a camp tending to a horse.  There was little to no cell signal out there.  Even though my wife had gotten two notices, we debated on whether or not is was an inadvertent “hip” or “butt” dial.  My wife attempted to contact our daughter with no success.  She then tried to contact the camp and was again unsuccessful.  We decided that we needed to drive out there because there was no one else at camp that day because staff were gone attending meetings.

We drove out to the camp, trying not to wreck or get a ticket along the way.  Driving straight to the barn where we knew our daughter should be, we found her car, her stuff that she had brought with her, the horse she was looking in on, but no sign of her.  We had contacted a staff member who suggested we check another area there, which we could conveniently drive to in the car.  Our plan was to drive out there and for one of us walk a trail back to the barn that our daughter might have taken, but we were too unfamiliar with the area to find the trail.

Not finding her there, we drove back to the barn.  Police had arrived, not because of the 911 call, which we later learned never fully connected, but because the staff member we talked to had called and requested the police to check.  We spoke with him and let him know what was going on.  After that, I drove to another area to see if our daughter was there.  There was no sign of her, but I yelled her name in case she was close (God).  When I heard a cry for help in reply, I couldn’t figure out what to feel.  I was glad that I had probably almost found her, but dreaded what I would find as I realized that the 911 call was not accidental.  My daughter really was out here and more than likely hurt.

I took off down a trail and kept yelling and listening.  When the response sounded like it was coming from up the hill, through the woods, I barrelled off the path and into the trees, yelling every few steps.  I thankfully did not twist an ankle or hurt myself in the process of charging through the woods (God).  I could see her through the trees now, sitting on a trail.

The first thing she said to me when I emerged from the trees was “My leg is broke”.  I was blocked by a fence with barbed wire between us.  As I looked for a place to get through or climb over, she told me that the barn was just down the trail.  “I’ll be right back,” I told her, and plunged back into the trees in the direction of the barn.  Sure enough, no more than two hundred yards down the trail was the barn (God).  I got my wife’s and the officer’s attention and the rescue started in earnest.  The officer used his radio to request an ambulance and first responders.

After much confusion and delay because of hazardous road conditions, first responders and an ambulance arrived and we got her down to the barn where the ambulance could take her away.  Over three hours after she fell down a steep trail and broke her leg, my daughter was finally on the way to the hospital with some pain medication in her system.

There were so many things that could have gone so much worse.  It could have happened the day before, when the temperatures were in the thirties with stiff winds.  Instead, it was nearly fifty degrees and little to no wind.  My daughter could have left her phone behind at the barn.  Instead, she put it in her pocket, “in case something happened”.  She might have had no signal at all and not been able to reach a tower, in which case my wife would not have gotten the notice from our carrier that my daughter’s phone dialed 911.  Instead she got just enough signal to get to the tower and register the 911 call, even though it immediately dropped and the 911 operator was unable to take her call.

God saved my daughter through many seemingly insignificant nudgings.  Schedules, people, and technology all were put in place at the right time and in the right way for this situation, as terrible as it was, to not be any worse.  I’m no math wiz, but the events of yesterday were entirely improbable without the work of a sovereign God.

This is post 11 of what will now be 28 posts in February.  I missed a day and didn’t rise up to meet my challenge, but God did not miss anything.

A Horrible, Exhausting Struggle

George Orwell said that “writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle” and while I can heartily agree with that statement, I sometimes wonder if he ever wrote a study guide.  I am currently in the middle of doing both of these things, and I’m not sure from day to day which one I am more frustrated with.

On the one hand there is the book.  Writing my book allows me the freedom to write creatively, expressing some of my wildest fantasies and deepest fears, all in the same set of pages.  The problem, of course, is that writing about fantasies and about fears is equally terrifying.  Then there is the whole problem of actually creating something new, as completely new as I can muster, through the expression of these ideas that have been tainted and shaped by a lifetime of reading everything from science fiction to romance.  How can I write something new, with thousands of years of humans writing ahead of me?  Can I create something that the literature-saturated masses want to read?  Fear creeps in again.  The fear of outright failure, as in, “I will never finish this book” and also the fear of limited success, as in, “Well, I finished it, but no one wants to read it”.  It is exhausting.

Then there is the study guide for Timothy Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor.  Here, I am constrained by both the content of the book and by the crushing responsibility of presenting the truths contained in the text with Biblical and theological accuracy.  I don’t want to miss any potentially interesting point, but there comes a point where I am just presenting the entirety of the text instead of pointing out the highlights.  There is so much Biblical richness in the themes of the book, but there are some points that seem to rub against the grain of conventional thought on work.  I want to present these ideas carefully and accurately, without confusing or causing my fellow Christians to stumble.  It is a daunting task and I have found myself spending more time considering the worth of a point or two in a particular week’s guide than working to present the remaining points with the clarity I feel they require.  It is exhausting work.

I really don’t know which is worse, or if they are equally daunting tasks.  As I work through both projects, in addition to posting these blogs every day in February, I am gradually finding my way back into the writing groove I am always able to find in November for National Novel Writing Month.  This was the whole point of blogging every day in February, so I am hoping to really rev up my output on the book in March after substantial planning, organizing, and outlining during February.  My goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of March.  I am 60,000 words away from that goal presently, so that is fairly daunting.  After that comes the hard part – editing and revising.  Mozart might have simply written down music that was finished in his head, but I am incapable of that magnitude of forethought, so editing and revision are essential.

With that said, keep on the lookout here on this site for the teaser page for my current book.  I hope to have it up in the next couple of weeks, if I can find someone to sketch some cover art and characters for me.  If anyone knows any graphic artists that are willing to work (at least initially) for praise and web publication only, please let me know.  Otherwise, there will be a teaser page full of stick people and crude scribbles.

Until tomorrow when I post again (oh, this is post 10 of 29 for February, woohoo!), have a great and blessed day!

 

What Is Worship For?

Today I ask the question – what is worship for, or more specifically what is the job of a worship leader?  Entire books have been written about this very topic and I am only offering a blog post, but I feel compelled to express my thoughts and bring a satisfying answer (at least for me) to the question.  I only ask this question because of a snippet passed around via a group text today.  The statement is from A. W. Tozer’s God’s Pursuit of Man and it says this –

For song can never bring the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does invariably bring song.

When I first read this, my heart took a step back, because I have always (incorrectly) understood that one of the tasks of a worship leader was to “bring the spirit (the Holy Spirit) to the people”, even though no one has EVER actually said that to me and probably never would, because it is inherently wrong for a couple of reasons.

First, we as Christians, do not “bring” the Holy Spirit to anyone, through song or testimony or sermon.  The Spirit inhabits us and surrounds us and it is our job to simply listen and tune in to it.  It is also our responsibility to be the light of the world to others, but again, we don’t actually bring that light, we reflect it.  Nothing we do will ever coerce the Holy Spirit to inhabit any particular place or person.

Second, this understanding I held is totally backwards, as the quote, and in fact the entire text it is taken from, explains.  The Holy Spirit filling up within us compels us as worship leaders to bring praise to God and to help others to tune in and listen to what the Spirit has to say.  This is our job and our challenge, as we don’t always show up at church bubbling over with the Spirit.  This fallen world and circumstances try to rob us of the Spirit constantly.  While it is the responsibility of our brother and sister worship leaders to encourage us to a point of expressing worship and praise, ultimately, we have to shut out the distractions and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us.

So let’s look at this statement, taking into account the previous points and try to answer the question – what is worship for?  What is the job of a worship leader?  The key part of the statement is the last half – “the Holy Spirit does invariably bring song”.  It is the Holy Spirit that brings us to song.  We use our gifts and our talents of vocalization and instrumentation to express our joy and our reverence to God.  It is our natural outlet, just as prayer, or prophecy, or teaching or comforting are the natural, “go to” outlets of others.  When we are called to the worship ministry, as I believe worship leaders should be, we sing, or play, our exuberance and praise to God.

With this in mind, my conclusion is that the point of worship and the job of a worship leader is to simply express our reverence and devotion to God through song.  As Tozer claims, the Holy Spirit invariably brings song.  The definition of invariably is this – “in every case or on every occasion; always”, leading me to conclude that the job definition includes the explicit understanding that we always will worship if we are in tune and listening to the Holy Spirit.

This concludes post 9 of 29 posts for February.  If you are interested, please take a look at any of my previous posts and come back and visit tomorrow when I present a post about where I stand in my journey to write a novel and a little about my continuing effort to write a study guide for Timothy Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor.  Until then, have a great and blessed day!

 

Random Thoughts On A Monday

Since I had no real topic planned for today’s post, I thought I would share some random thoughts on things I read today and things that happened last night.

My first random thought is – I am so glad I did not see the Super Bowl halftime show!  After reading about what happened during the show I almost miss the days of simple wardrobe malfunctions, planned or unplanned.  For the halftime show of the stinking Super Bowl to sink to the level of last night’s menagerie, I have to believe that the entire thing was a closely guarded secret kept from NFL higher-ups.

In the midst of the crushing tackles, amazing feats of athleticism, and the domination of the NFL’s number one offense by the NFL’s number one defense (usually the case, no surprise here), was a tribute to a violent political group, a suspected pedophile, and to “love”, with a heavy emphasis on the rainbow flag being waved on the field during the performance and the giant rainbow and massive display of flowers the entire stadium was turned into.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that, but if you want a brutally honest assessment of the entire hot mess that was the Super Bowl halftime show, check out Matt Walsh’s article at The Blaze.  He also has some choice words about some of the ads shown during the game and about some of the most ridiculous reactions to them.  It is a good read.

My next topic takes a wide swing from sports and politics and turns to technology.  My son recently built himself a budget gaming computer and had the misfortune to have to buy a power supply that was, shall we say, sub-par.  He didn’t skimp on the video card, of course, which is why he had to buy the less-than-solid power supply.  After about a month of pretty constant game play, the computer simply shut down on him last night and would not boot again.  The autopsy revealed that he had burned out the +12V rail in the power supply, which I had feared would happen when he was forced to buy the cheaper power supply.  The +12V rail in the supply only provided a maximum of 18 amps of current and his super-duper video card idled at around 13 amps.  Between that and the other items on the rail he totally wore that power supply out.

The truly scary part of the entire affair came about when we check the manufacturer’s web site for the terms of the warranty on the power supply, assuming it was short, like thirty or ninety days.  After poking around for a bit on the site, I gave up and put “warranty” into the site search bar.  When the page displayed the fact that the search term returned no hits, I quickly determined that he was out of luck.  We ordered a new power supply, which will be here this week.  The +12V rail on the new supply will provide 40 amps of current and if he burns that one out he is on his own.

Lastly, ICYMI, Valentine’s Day is approaching fast.  All those men out there who haven’t even started planning better get on the stick.  Enough said on that.

This is post 8 of 29, only 21 left to write this month!  Have a great and blessed night!

A Music Review And More

So I was  originally going to dive into a music review today, but as I have not been listening to much music lately, I will only make a comment on some music I heard earlier tonight.  I was watching the Super Bowl and Lady Gaga presented the national anthem.  I’m pretty open to all forms of music, but I’ve never been impressed with anything she has produced, plus her weird costumes and opinions are hard to deal with, so you can imagine my reaction when she was announced as the singer for the nation anthem.

I was expecting her usual, over-the-top appearance and had no idea what to expect as far as the song itself, because as I said, I’ve not been impressed with anything I had heard from her.  I groaned audibly, as the armed forces chorus had just finished “God Bless America” and it was awesome.  There she was, Lady Gaga, dressed in a remarkably conservative, completely red outfit, none of her really crazy makeup, and just a large, but not phantasmagorical hairdo.  When the music started, it was fairly traditional and when she started singing, it was amazing!  She really can sing, unlike a fair number of popular music stars, not just now in the era of auto-tune, but dating back for decades.

She gave a solid, wonderful, stirring, rendition of the national anthem, complete with a wildly held out last note that lasted long enough for a flight of jets to fly over the stadium.  I was pleasantly impressed with her chops.  I’m sure there are folks out there saying “duh” to my realization that Lady Gaga can actually sing, but when an artist seems to thrive only from the controversy she stirs up, I tend to assume that there is nothing of substance for her to flaunt.  Will I now go out and buy a Lady Gaga album?  Nope.

As I am writing this, I switched over and saw that the final score of Super Bowl 50 was 24-10 in favor of the Broncos.  Having only watched the first half, I was expecting a score like this.  Carolina was aggressive and active in the first half, but made far too many errors and didn’t seem to be able to escape Denver’s defense.  Denver was mostly solid, with the exception of some personal fouls.  Apparently the Denver defense was way too much for Cam Newton.  He was spotty all night, making four of four passes in one drive and none in the next.

The fact that a defensive player was named MVP goes to show how much of a factor it was.  That, and the fact that Denver only racked up 194 total yards, the lowest of any Super Bowl winner ever, just goes to prove that the best offense is a good defense, especially since the defense scored one of the Bronco’s touchdowns.  Other records set included seven sacks of Cam Newton, the most by a single team in any Super Bowl.  Carolina was held to their fewest points all season, but it wasn’t necessarily Cam Newton’s fault that Carolina lost.  Failures were abundant for a team that was so dominant during the season, and the Super Bowl is not the place to lose your edge.

Post 7 of 29 for February!  Woohoo, a whole week!  Have a great and blessed night!

Really Bad Advice

1I heard some really bad advice tonight.  I have to preface this post with the fact that I did not hear the whole story so this all could be completely off base.  I don’t even know the age of either the man or his girlfriend so this could really be off the mark, but what I heard was really bad advice.

First, I want to state that this was on a Christian radio station call-in show, with a Christian counselor giving advice to those lucky callers who make it through.  This caller was a young man who was having trouble with his girlfriend.  She had taken a trip and he was eager to see her and spend some time with her when she got back.  His father offered him a trip to accompany him to Israel.  The young man turned him down because he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to him, she had another trip planned back to back with her current trip so they would not get to spend time with each other anyway.

From this, the host concluded that the young man was obsessing over his girlfriend.  He deemed their relationship unhealthy and said that the trips were her way to telling the young man that he was obsessing too much.  The host also told the young man that he was wrong to give up quality time with his father in Israel, because, and I quote, “girlfriends come and go, but his father was always there”.  His advice was to wish her well on her trip, and date someone else while she was gone.

I find this appalling for a secular counselor to suggest, much less a Christian counselor.  If this young man and woman were in a relationship where there was an understanding that they were not dating anyone else, this advice, if followed, would pretty much assure the end of the relationship.  If this was a good relationship, then this advice could do more harm than good.  Even if it was a bad relationship, as Christians we should strive to conduct ourselves in as proper and upright a manner as possible.  I feel that wishing my girlfriend well as she leaves on a trip and then turning around and dating someone else while she is gone is not proper or upright.

This is a move that, at the least, requires a conversation, especially if these two are in an exclusive relationship.  I also feel that if indeed the girlfriend felt smothered in the relationship, that would need to be a conversation, and if they are Christians, this shouldn’t be a difficult thing to accomplish.  I may be being naive about this, but looking at it from the outside, it seems to be the logical thing to do.  It doesn’t negate the fact that the advice given, I feel, was very bad advice and had far more potential for harm than healing.

I know I am treading into dangerous territory, mentioning love and relationships and logical thinking all in the same paragraph.  Humans tend to not be logical about love.  Love, many times can turn into obsessions instead of relationships.  We obsess over people who don’t love us back, as might be the case in the situation above.  We obsess over people who not only don’t really love us back, but who are bad for us and cause us harm.  Literature, great and bad, is filled with the stories of love and obsession over the wrong person.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes things work against all odds.  Sometimes what is wrong with the object of affection is not really wrong, just not conventional.

Either way, whether we admit it or not, we love to read and hear about love.  I love my wife.  I love to see couples, both dating and married, enjoying each other’s company.  We were made for connecting with other people, and I feel we were also made to connect to one person, a spouse, deeply.  Lastly, we were made to connect to a God who loves us and who we should love, worship and obey.  This last relationship is the most important one and it gives us value and worth above all other ones.  I hope you have that relationship.  If not, I encourage you to find a Christian friend and ask them about the greatest love in their life.

Post 6 of 29 down!  If I post tomorrow, I’ll have made it a week, which is more consistent than I have ever been.  I hope you have a great and blessed night!

 

Fun With Websites!

I have been having fun with websites lately.  Today, I’d like to tell a little about my recent web site move and give my new hosting company a shout-out.

I admit it, I’m a cheapskate when it comes to a web presence.  I started out on free shared hosting running a Joomla site.  It was fun and cool, but if any of you have ever used free shared hosting, you know that the limitations are fairly restrictive.  I was willing to deal with the trade-offs for a while.

I was playing chess regularly then and I had a plug-in that allowed me to post complete chess games, allowing my readers to play through them.  I could postmortem my games and post them on my site, complete with variations, commentary and generally derogatory remarks (made by me) about my playing.  I was brutally honest about my games (I think).  As I said, that was fun for a while, but the constant updates to Joomla and the plugins was tiresome.

I made the hard decision to give up the Joomla install and my free shared hosting (I was having too many performance and access issues) and move to Blogger.com.  I posted there for a while.  It wasn’t a big deal to give up my chess games on the Joomla site at the time because I was playing less and less.  I was pretty happy and it was all still free, aside from my domain name.  Then I discovered WordPress.

WordPress was a magical environment.  I could add plugins, design the site however I wanted very easily (as you can see, I am NOT a web designer), and post easily.  But wait!  I couldn’t do all these things on WordPress.org.  I could only do them if I hosted it myself or put it on shared hosting.  I was all prepared to install WordPress on my home server and run it from there.  I even downloaded the install file and cleared a drive on my server to isolate the install.

It was then that my domain name registrar GoDaddy (who I still use for my domain and who does pretty much anything related to web presence now and has for a while) sucked me in to hosted WordPress.  They would maintain WordPress core files, and all I had to do was design my site, keep my plugins and themes updated, and make my posts.  The price was right – $1.00 a month (for the first payment term, of course).  I dove in with both feet – twelve bucks for a year of hosted WordPress!  I could do anything on the site I wanted.

All good things come to an end eventually, and it took twelve months for this good thing to end. When I saw the renewal cost for my beloved hosted WordPress site, I nearly choked. My $12 site suddenly became a $100 site. No way, no how, I said. It was time to find another provider for my WordPress site. Being the cheapskate that I am, I looked for any hosted WordPress provider that would offer a good first year/term rate and then hopefully not gouge me the second time around.

The WordPress.org site is incredibly helpful in this respect. They have recommended providers and you can generally get a discount going through them, although this page on the website is under construction currently (as of February 5th, 2016). The other site that was extremely helpful was WPBeginner. They also had a recommended provider list that provided discounts and were highly rated. I checked into all of them. Many had great first year/term deals, but then the price would more than double.

However, this was not the biggest problem. All of the recommended sites, without exception, required that I keep a form of payment on file, even if I paid for a year in advance. I don’t even do that for GoDaddy, where my domain is registered. Even though they require a form of payment, they will accept a prepaid card as a valid form of payment. These other hosting sites did not. I was not about to put my debit or credit card into their system and just leave it there, especially since they would have no need to charge anything to it for at least a year.

Then I found (or re-found, as I had looked at this company before) A Small Orange (ASO). ASO did not require me to attach my debit or credit card to my account. Once I paid for my services, they were happy to let me use them without any further encroachment into my finances. Other companies claimed that they needed my card information so that “my site would always be available” in case I was stupid enough to let my plan lapse. If I’m stupid enough to not pay my bill, and my site goes dark, then I deserve any flak from that. I’m an adult, and generally a responsible one, so don’t blow smoke at me about “accessibility” when what you really want is to be able to automatically renew my hosting plan at the normal rate, without needing any input from me. Yes, I know, these hosting companies are just that, businesses, and they are in this to make money ultimately, but at least be honest about why you want my credit or debit card number handy.

ASO was great in that regard. My plan purchase process was remarkable painless. I could choose to have WordPress installed as part of the initial purchase process, which meant that it was waiting for me almost immediately upon completing my purchase. Yes, I would now have to maintain the core WordPress files, but the trade-off was worth it.

Their support is also top notch. I have had no issues with the service. The limits on my account are generous. The price is right for both the first term, and even at full price after my initial term. They advertise as “homegrown website hosting” and they are a full service provider with shared, business, dedicated, reseller and cloud VPS offerings. They can also provide an SSL certificate and install it for an additional charge as well as offer domains.

If you are looking for a hosting site, I highly recommend them. Full disclosure – Yes, I get some credit if you use my affiliate link to sign up. I will be relating my successful attempt to install a LetsEncrypt certificate on my ASO site in the next couple of days, so check back in soon.

Here ends post 5 of 29 in my February challenge – have a great and blessed day!

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